Pablo Picasso is probably the most important figure of 20th century, in terms of art, and art movements that occurred over this period. Before the age of 50, the Spanish born artist had become the most well known
name in modern art, with the most distinct style and eye for artistic creation. There had been no other artists, prior to Picasso, who had such an impact on the art world, or had a mass following of fans and critics alike, as he did.
Although his art career spanned over a 7 decade period, Pablo Picasso is most known for his introduction of cubism, and modern approach to painting, which set forth the movements to follow in to the twentieth century. Not only was his art form well ahead of his time, but the works he created went on to influence artists and painters down the line, for a period of more than 50 years, and still influences the styles of many artists today.
In his early age, the young Picasso was enrolled at the school where his father taught. He quickly grasped the concepts, surpassing even seniors at the institution. At the age of fifteen, a rich relative offered to pay for his training at the Royal Academy of Art in Barcelona. However, Picasso never graduated. He was restless, a trait that would remain with him throughout his professional and personal life.
In 1900, Picasso moved to France. There, he lived a life of poverty. For the next three years, the young artist continued to traverse between France and Spain. In about the same time, following the suicide of his friend Carlos Casagemas, Picasso entered what later called by critics the Blue Period, when he painted essentially monochromatic paintings in shades of blue and blue-green, only occasionally warmed by other colors. In addition to the death of his friend, the artist was still struggling, living in poverty. Two of his most famous paintings from this period is The Old Guitarist, and Blue Nude.
Art is a lie that makes us realize the truth." - Pablo Picasso
In 1904, Picasso met Fernande Olivier, a bohemian artist who became his mistress. Olivier appears in many of Picass's paintings, many of which are influenced by his warm relationship with her, in addition to his increased
exposure to French painting. By 1905, Picasso became a favorite of American art collectors Leo and Gertrude Stein. Gertrude Stein became Picasso's principal patron, acquiring his drawings and paintings and exhibiting them in her
informal Salon at her home in Paris. With his improved financial situation and relationship with Olivier, Picasso enter a particularly joyful period in his life. Between 1904 and 1906, Picasso's style is characterized by a more
cheery style with orange and pink colors, and featuring many circus people, acrobats and harlequins known in France as saltimbanques. The harlequin, a
comedic character usually depicted in checkered patterned clothing, became a personal symbol for Picasso. This period was later called Picasso's Rose Period
For Picasso, the seminal moment was the Paul Cezanne retrospective held at the Salon d'Automne, one year after the artist's death in 1906. Though he previously had been familiar with Cezanne, it was not until the retrospective that Picasso experienced the full impact of his artistic achievement. In Cezanne's works, Picasso found a model of how to distill the essential from nature in order to achieve a cohesive surface that expressed the artist's singular vision. In about the same time, the aesthetics of traditional African sculpture became a powerful influence among European artists. In France, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, and their School of Paris friends start blending the highly stylized treatment of the human figure in African sculptures with painting styles derived from the post-Impressionist works of Cezanne and Gauguin. Picasso starts to enter his African Period, which lasted from 1907 to 1909.
Every act of creation is first of all an act of destruction." - Pablo Picasso
Les Demoiselles d'Avignon was Picasso's first masterpiece. The painting depicts five naked women with figures composed of flat, splintered planes
and faces inspired by Iberian sculpture and African masks. The compressed space the figures inhabit appears to project forward in jagged shards; a fiercely pointed slice of melon in the still life of fruit at the
bottom of the composition teeters on an impossibly upturned tabletop. In this painting, Picasso makes a radical departure from traditional European painting by adaptation of Primitivism and abandonment of
perspective in favor of a flat, two-dimensional picture plane.
When Les Demoiselles d'Avignon first appeared, it was as if the art world had collapsed. Known form and representation were completely abandoned. Hence it was called the most innovative painting in modern art history. With the new strategies applied in the painting, Picasso suddenly found freedom of expression away from current and classical French influences and was able to carve his own path. Formal ideas developed during this period lead directly into the Cubist period that follows.
Around 1910, Pablo Picasso moved toward abstraction and experimented with different types of representation to challenge the orthodoxy of illusionistic space in painting. Working with Georges Braque, Picasso created one of the most influential visual art styles of the early twentieth century - Cubism. Abandoning traditional use of perspective, Picasso created a convincing three-dimensional illusion of space, challenging viewers to understand a subject broken down into its geometrical components. Cubism rejected the inherited concept that art should copy nature, and becomes a form that was no longer intended to depict reality. Cubism artists wanted to emphasize the two-dimensionality of the canvas, so they reduced and fractured objects into geometric forms, and then realigned these within a shallow, relieflike space. In this way, Pablo Picasso truly transcended the art world, the way in which art came to be, and future works created by other artists that followed him.
Others have seen what is and asked why. I have seen what could be and asked why not."
- Pablo Picasso
Cubism, especially the second form, known as Synthetic Cubism, played a great role in the development of western art world. Works of this phase emphasize the combination, or synthesis, of forms in the picture. Colour is extremely
important in the objects' shapes because they become larger and more decorative. Non-painted objects such as newspapers or tobacco wrappers, are frequently pasted on the canvas in combination with painted areas - the incorporation
of a wide variety of extraneous materials is particularly associated with Picasso's novel technique of collage. This collage technique emphasizes the differences in texture and poses the question of what is reality and what
is illusion in painting. With his use of color, shape and geometrical figures, and his unique approach to depict images, Picasso changed the direction of art for generations to come.
Another aspect of his works that differentiated Pablo Picasso from other artists of his time was the fact that his works depicted his personal feeling, as well as the outside world. He wasn't afraid to push boundaries of the human mind. In 1937, following the Nazi Germany's bombing in Guernica, the artist created his most famous work Guernica. The work is considered as the most powerful anti-war statement of modern art. It was done to showcase Picasso's support towards ending war, and a condemnation on fascism in general. From the beginning, Picasso chooses not to represent the horror of Guernica in realist or romantic terms. Key figures - a woman with outstretched arms, a bull, an agonized horse - are refined in sketch after sketch, then transferred to the capacious canvas, which he also reworks several times. Dark color and monochrome theme were used to depict the trying times, and the anguish which was being suffered. Guernica challenges the notions of warfare as heroic and exposes it as a brutal act of self-destruction. The works was not only a practical report or painting but also stays as a highly powerful political picture in modern art, rivaled by a few fresco paintings by Mexican artist Diego Rivera.
Bad artists copy. Good artists steal." - Pablo Picasso
Comical and fantasy were also the types of works that Picasso focused on, as his career moved forward. Graphic arts, ceramics, and sculptures, were the methods that he uses most, as opposed to painting and etched works,
which were the predominant choices early on in his career. During his life time, Picasso produced thousands of stage designs, illustrations, and a series of drawings, which represented these themes, and distinct styles.
Towards the end of his career, Picasso enjoyed examining Classical works that had influenced his development over the years, and produced several series of variations of paintings of Old Master, including Francisco Goya, Diego Velazquez, and Edouard Manet, the founder of modern traditions. Some of the most notable works he did, include Massacre in Korea after Goya, Las Meninas after Velazquez, and Luncheon on the Grass after Manet. Many of these pieces are still influential in the art world today; and, in fact, due to the vision and distinct creative style, are still among some of the most innovative pieces which have been introduced to the art world, even during recent years.
When Picasso died at age 91 in April 1973, he had become one of the most famous and successful artist throughout history. He is also undeniably the most prolific genius in the history of art. His career spanned over a 78 year period, in which he created: 13,500 paintings, 100,000 prints and engravings, and 34,000 illustrations. Picasso was, and still is, seen as a magician by writers and critics, a metaphor that captures both the sense of an artist who is able to transform everything around him at a touch and a man who can also transform himself, elude us, fascinate and mesmerise us.
I do not seek. I find. ” - Pablo Picasso
Now known as the father of modern art, Pablo Picasso has a major impact on the art work which is produced today and into the future. Picasso's free spirit, his eccentric style, and his complete disregard for what others thought of his work and creative style, made him a catalyst for artists to follow. Picasso's originality touched every major artist and art movement that followed in his wake. Even as of today, his life and works continue to invite countless scholarly interpretation and attract thousands of followers around the world. No one has achieved the same degree of widespread fame or displayed such incredible versatility as Pablo Picasso has in the art history.